Could casino cash help fund Bossier teacher raises?

Bossier casino money and education

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Ever since the arrival of casino riverboats in Shreveport-Bossier, they have often been billed as a panacea, or cure-all, for previously intractable problems.

In places like Bossier Parish that casino cash has greatly helped public school funding over the years.

There's now an idea floating around on how casino funds could possibly help again.

It's been a rough couple of days for the Bossier Parish School District after the resounding defeat of two tax measures.

Those measures would have catapulted teacher salaries back to the levels of surrounding school districts.

But now, teachers and school district leaders must go back to the drawing board.

One very common question these days is why casino funding has not already been considered for teacher raises.

There is a Bossier School Fund, known as the Bossier Educational Excellence Fund, or BEEF.

There's now more than $51 million in cash collected from casinos in Bossier Parish all to help improve classroom instructions.

"This is a teacher program. This is for things they don't have in their classroom."

It was then-State Senator Foster Campbell, back in 1985, who created the BEEF Fund.

Now a Louisiana Public Safety Commissioner, Campbell said he’s been pleased to see how the money has been spent over the years.

"Oh yeah, yeah. It goes into the classroom. That's where the rubber meets the road is in the classroom."

Campbell, a former teacher himself, began naming off just a few of the many examples of what BEEF spending has meant for Bossier schools.

"They've bought computers. They have a speech lab. They have, Parkway has a TV lab, you know, teaching kids how to do what you're doing."

By law, only the interest earned on the fund is spent and only on approved classroom instruction.

Some, like local taxpayer Laura Evans, insist that spending restriction needs to change largely because of how important teachers are to the education equation.

"Listen, the one profession that provides all of the professions in life should be supported financially."

Bossier officials tell us they typically collect about $2.7 million every year from the casinos.

That money goes directly to the BEEF account.

Campbell explained how more money is in that account the more interest is generated for schools to spend every year.

According to Frank Rougeau, Chief Financial Officer of the Bossier Parish School District, they expect to have $750,000 this year.

And that's why Campbell said he's not budging from his position the money is only for classrooms.

In fact, Campbell told us so far no one has even approached him about using the BEEF fund for teacher salaries.

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